Castor plant (Ricinus communis) is cultivated around the world for its non-edible oilseed. Castor is an important non-edible oilseed crop and is grown especially in arid and semi arid region. It is originated in the tropical belt of both India and Africa. It is cultivated in 30 different countries on commercial scale, of which India, China, Brazil, USSR, Thailand Ethiopia and Philippines are major castor growing accounts about 88 per cent of the world's production.
It is an annual crop and is grown by sowing the seeds in hot weather. In India, it is grown as a kharif crop and is planted generally during the months of July and August. The crop has a duration period of 4 to 5 months and is generally harvested in the months of December and January.
Castor oil has a wide range of applications mostly industrial. The castor oil has indispensable usage in many industries like cosmetics, surface coatings, toiletries, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, soaps, and medicines. Castor oil and its derivatives are also used in lubricating formulations. Castor oil is used either in crude form or in the refined hydrogenated form.
Castor oil enjoys tremendous demand world-wide, estimated at about 220,000 tonnes per annum. The current consumption of Castor Oil and its derivatives in the domestic market is estimated at about 100,000 tonnes.
The supply of castor and its derivatives is highly fluctuating. Any change in the production trend in any of these countries leads to a change in the level of the world production. The growing castor-based bio-fuel industry is also resulting in the increasing demand pressure on castor.
India is the biggest exporter of castor oil holding about 70% share of the international trade in this commodity followed distantly by China & Brazil. The average castor production in India was approximately 11.15 lakh tonnes in 2008-09. The states of Gujarat & Rajasthan contribute 90% of the total castor produced in India.
The districts in Gujarat namely Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Kutch are the main production centre of Castor. Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan follow Gujarat in production of castor seed. In Andhra Pradesh the main production centres are Nalgonda, Mehboobnagar, Prakasam, Guntur and Ranga Reddy. The total area on which castor is produced in India is around 7.87 lakh hectare (approx.) in 2008-09.
Factors influencing Castor prices
- Consumption and export pattern
- Estimated output based on the acreage and weather conditions and pest infestation etc
- Leftover stocks from the previous year’s production after meeting the demand
- Government policies and intervention
- Direct procurement by the government agencies and storage in warehouses
- Shifting cropping patterns in producing countries